Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mark Twain, the New York Times and American Imperialism

Mark Twain knew all about being a boy in the early 19th century, growing up along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River.

Apparently he also knew a thing or two about American imperialism.

He died 100 years ago this past April 22. Now comes word that a large part of his "private" autobiography, held in confidence for the hundred years following his death, will be published this fall. In it, so rumor goes, he "names names" and calls a spade a spade regarding our American propensity for foreign military adventurism. It’s said, shockingly, that he actually referred to our armed forces as "uniformed assassins." We'll all have to wait until November to get the all deets on that.

Meanwhile, though, we can content ourselves with reading recently published secret documents posted first on Wiki Leaks and then again yesterday, in great analytic detail, in the New York Times -- documents detailing the horrors and failures of our 9 year war in Afghanistan.

The United States of America has involved itself in military actions, foreign and domestic, too many times to enumerate here.  But you can check it out for yourself at the web site of Zoltan Grossman, a professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington by clicking on his web-page, Here.

It is naive of us to believe that our foreign excursions are excusable because they bring goodness and democracy to other nations. We're not terribly interested in that, when our strategic interests are really to annoy some foreign power and to steal whatever assets we can lay our hands on... assets which will further enrich the entrenched military-industrial complex here at home.

Winston Churchill once remarked that we Americans "can be counted upon to always do the right thing ... once we've exhausted every other possibility".

It's a lovely thought, but untrue.

In fact, we only do the "right thing" once we’ve been shamed into it (we were happy to sit by while England was visciously attacked by Germany and, in fact, didn't get off our asses to really help the English until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor). Our natural inclination is to do the wrong thing, time and time again. And by wrong I mean "that thing which will embarrassingly enrich a handful of ruthless plutocrats who have zero interest in either democracy or their fellow men."

It is those same plutocrats who, by virtue of their self-centered ruthlessness, cause wars which must then be fought and won by the flower of our youth, millions of young men and women who have no vested financial interest in the outcome of the war but who are conned into believing that it is their patriotic duty to un-do the damage done by handfuls of hateful old men and women who then sit back at home and reap the profits generated by our sons’ and daughters’ deaths overseas.

And yes, I do love my country. But we have hocked our future to the military and industry to the tune of trillions of dollars. Dollars we should’ve spent making America a paradise on earth instead of a bankrupt nation of deluded fools who haven't got a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out.

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